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Originally published Saturday, December 17, 2011 at 7:10 PM

Seahawks need QB Tarvaris Jackson to stand out

The final games of the season will say a lot about how Jackson is judged as the Seahawks' starter this year and going forward.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sunday

Seahawks @ Chicago Bears, 10 a.m., Ch. 13

quotes Well, we all know what some people think of Jackson as our QB. I personally have the u... Read more
quotes Its gonna be a play off game type atmosphere with the winning team keeping their play... Read more
quotes Jackson plays at about the level I expected him to (he is inconsistent) however I... Read more

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Quarterbacks supposedly get too much credit when a team is winning.

Whoever said that is advised to look at this season's Seahawks.

Tarvaris Jackson has taken a back seat to running back Marshawn Lynch's junk-food preference, and the Seahawks' cornerbacks are getting more attention than their quarterback.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Jackson has been efficient, he has been effective, and he has managed this team to four wins in five games — a polite way of saying that he isn't mucking anything up with turnovers.

But at some point, Seattle is going to need its quarterback to stare down an opposing defense. Some point like Sunday in Chicago, facing a Bears team that specializes in turnovers in a game with playoff implications.

"We know they're going to come out firing," Jackson said. "Come out fast. You want to make sure you try to match their intensity and make them try to match our intensity."

With just three games left in Jackson's first season as a Seahawk, Seattle is still trying to figure out just what to make of him. He's had the two biggest single-game passing totals of his career this season, but he's also passed for more than 200 yards only once in the past four games. He came to town with a 10-10 record as a starting quarterback, and the Seahawks have gone 6-6 in his starts this season. But he has also courageously played through a strained pectoral muscle so severe that he couldn't practice on back-to-back days for more than a month.

What happens in these final games is going to say a lot about how Jackson is judged as the Seahawks' starter this year and going forward.

"We don't have a lot of time left in the season," coach Pete Carroll said, "but I think his confidence and his rhythm and all of that will pick up here now that he's feeling 100 percent."

Don't forget that for the first five weeks of this season, Jackson was about the only thing the offense had going for it. The Seahawks couldn't run and struggled in pass protection, and about the only time Seattle moved the ball was when it ditched the huddle and Jackson stomped on the accelerator to increase the pace.

"We got into the speed-ball thing and it was working," he said. "It was probably our best way of moving the football."

For the past six games, Seattle has demonstrated a renewed emphasis on running the ball. Jackson has not completed a pass of 30 or more yards in the past three games.

"We got it back going with the run a couple weeks ago, and it's been better for our team," Jackson said.

But you can only manage yourself so far in the NFL. At some point, the team will find itself on the wrong end of a fourth-quarter deficit and look to its quarterback to provide an answer. That happened three weeks ago in a six-point loss to Washington, in which the Seahawks' final four possessions produced more yards in penalties (20) than offense (11) and failed to gain a first down.

Jackson hasn't missed a practice since that game, and the Seahawks have won back-to-back games for the second time this season, playing their way to the cusp of playoff consideration.

The Seahawks will try to quite literally continue that run in Chicago, while the Bears are making a last stand for the postseason. And if the Seahawks can't find any headway on the ground, the quarterback who has been an afterthought these past few weeks is going to become the most important player on the field for Seattle.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @dannyoneil

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